Granit Xhaka: All you need to know

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Granit Xhaka has joined Arsenal from Borussia Monchengladbach for a fee of £30m with possible add-ons in the future up to £35m. 

The facts:

  • 23-years-old
  • Born and raised in Basel, Switzerland, to Kosovo Albanian parents
  • His brother (25) plays for Albania
  • He has signed a 5-year-contract worth a reported £110,000 a week
  • “I was almost speechless when he called”, referring to Wenger’s first call to him.
  • Arsenal scouts have watched him play 30 times before signing him.
  • Xhaka made the Bundesliga Team of the Year last season, alongside Bayern stars Vidal, Muller and Lewandowski.
  • He captained Gladbach last year despite his age, and led them to fourth in the Bundesliga and played in the Champions League (although finished 4th behind Man City, Juventus and Sevilla in a tough group).
  • Granit also captained Switzerland at u17 and u21 age groups, winning the u17 World Cup and taking them to the u21 Euros final.
  • He has an aggressive side. Sent off 8 times in his career to date, he averages a booking every four games.
  • Nicknamed “the little Einstein”, he is not prolific with goals or assists, but similarly to Cazorla, helps break up the play and lays the foundations for attacks.
  • In his first interview with Arsenal he’s already speaking English, despite having never played in an English-speaking country. He can speak four languages, which could come in useful on the pitch.
  • All of the above show he is a leader. Aggressive, passionate, multi-linguist, communicator, winner.
  • In January he joked that he would take take Coquelin’s number 34 shirt if Arsenal signed him.
  • Xhaka won Gladbach’s goal of the year award in two of his three seasons there.
  • Ottmar Hitzfeld, former Switzerland boss and two-times Champions League winner, compared Xhaka to a “young Schweinsteiger”.
  • You can watch him in action for Switzerland at Euro 2016 this summer.

 

After joining, Xhaka told the clubs official website: “I’m very proud to be joining Arsenal. I cannot wait to move to London, represent this special club and play in the Premier League. I will give everything to help Arsenal win trophies and make the fans happy.”

Latest Transfer Round Up

Since I last posted about transfers a lot has happened. Sahin moved to Liverpool after Arsenal pulled out of negotitiations. But you know that already.

More recently, we sold Henri Lansbury to Nottingham Forest for £1m, a player with great potential but never flourished at the top end of the game leaving him with multiple loan spells: West Ham, Norwich and Sheffield Wednesday. Not a bad price for him I’d say.

We also found out today that Theo had rejected a contact extension after he wanted £95k or £100k a week, depending on the source. Arsenal were only willing to offer £75k maximum and told him if he couldn’t accept that he could go. With Arsenals policy this is somewhat understandable; we stand so firm and stubborn on wages, so why would we make an inconsistent, mediocre (thus far) player, one of the highest paid at the club. Wenger and Walcott had a meeting later on today though, and a short-term agreement has been made where Theo won’t be sold this window, but won’t be signing a new contract YET.

I personally expect to see him sign a new contract, where both parties compromise ie he’ll get £85-90k a week. Which I think is reasonabe on a long-term contract.

Defence looks sharp and I’m happy with that, and with Jack Wilshere returning hopefully sooner rather than later (touch wood) the midfield looks good, although without him it’s questionable. Diaby isn’t doing much for me. And we’re in need of a replacement for Song, but it doesn’t look there’s much activity on that front. M’Vila is the biggest link we have but it’s seeming more and more unlikely by the day. Tottenham are the only team to make a bid for him.
Upfront I think there’s an issue. Podolski and Giroud need time apparently but how long will it take? We need goals, and Gervinho isn’t good enough in my opinion either. Some of you may rate him, but he doesn’t produce enough good performances/goals/assists. I firmly believe we need to bring someone else in, in that area.

We’ve been heavily linked with Newcastle’s French Midfielder, Yohan Cabaye, with rumours suggesting we’ve made a £15m bid for him, using the money we got for Song. I can’t see us spending that much on that type of player though. I’ll let you decide how true that one is.

Ian Wright has said we should sign Jermaine Defoe, sparking rumours about him joining but I highly doubt Wenger would go for him or listen to what Wrighty has to say. He’s in favour at Spurs at the moment at least, and he won’t be cheap. Or good value for money in terms of goal to game ratio. Which is obviously important (especially to Wenger). He lacks technical ability that Wenger craves in his Strikers too. Rule this rumour out.

Other transfer rumours suggest we’re keeping tabs on Dzeko, Tiote, Rangel, Navas and Isco.

One or two of the seven players mentioned would be a dream. But often at Arsenal dreams rarely reach reality.

Off-Song

Arsenals season started off-song with our first game ending goalless against Sunderland with no RVP there to conjure up a goal, the new signings unable to find their shooting boots and Gervinho and Walcott playing a familiar game – one where they only play for short spells of the game. The final whistle blew, and to add to the disappointment, we were greeted with the news that Song was indeed Off.
The Barcelona vice-president flew into London earlier this week to speak directly to the Arsenal board, and the Ivan Gazidis about the purchase of Alex Song. One of the teams most experienced, and longest serving players. Barcelona are getting a habit for this. A deal was agreed for £15 million or 19 million euros as they say over there. No doubt Wenger would have wanted to keep this young man whose life he’s affected so much, since an early age, costing us just £400,000. However Wenger did add there was a positive, yes. He’d ‘influenced a players career’ something that seems to give Mr.Wenger an ego-boost. As opposed to the effect on the club. Song had said he was happy at Arsenal, but has remained quiet since the rumours and news began to step up a level.

He was a player who divided the fans, some thought of him as irratic, inconsistent, over-rated and unable to stay in position. While others saw him as someone with an eye for a pass, a solid, hard-to-beat CM, and someone who improved team morale – similar to Eboue in that respect perhaps. Which ever side you chose is your decision.

He will fly to Barcelona, for a medical tomorrow, and to agree personal terms. I wonder how much of a part he’ll play in Barcelona’s short or long term future.

Do YOU think we’ll miss Song? Or are you happy that we can now can bring in a replacement, with us hot favourites to sign Sahin from Madrid on a season-long loan?